Southeast Division Outlook: Chicago Bulls vs. Orlando Magic

Mar 14, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Bulls forward Tony Snell (20) attempts a shot as Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) defends at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Bulls forward Tony Snell (20) attempts a shot as Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) defends at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls will face off against an Orlando Magic squad that might play slower with new signing Bismack Biyombo at center. Even with Frank Vogel at the helm, the Magic might not have enough offense this season.

The Chicago Bulls face a strong inside scoring opponent in the Orlando Magic this year. Fred Hoiberg still has the deeper roster, from starters to the second team “Bench Mob” unit.

Don’t expect miracles from new Magic head coach Frank Vogel this year, and expect another lottery dive in the making for the Magic.

Unrestricted free agent Serge Ibaka might be moved for draft picks by February or be offered an extension depending on how he plays in tandem with Bismack Biyombo this year.

Player Matchups: The Ibaka-Biyombo combo vs. Everybody

The Magic will be matching up with the Chicago Bulls this year without combo guard Victor Oladipo. Vogel and the Magic front office may be looking for a more traditional build with a deep front court instead of a young, but inconsistent guard lineup.

Vogel’s newest big from the draft — 6’10” Stephen Zimmerman — who is a highly underrated, stretch-four project that may have a higher upside than some of this year’s first round picks. Zimmerman attacks the rim viciously off the ball and in pick-and-dives, and he does have three-point range.

With a strong inside game last year, the Magic evened out their series matchup against the Bulls last year in four meetings and blew them out twice.

If the Bulls have the “Three Alphas”, The Orlando Magic have the “Dual Monsters” and it will take all of the Bulls’ interior defense to contain the two. Hoiberg has always had a tough time playing against strong defensive rebounding teams that attack the low post; even in his college lineups because he runs one playmaker and four shooters out most of the time.

The tall, veteran Magic front court may be their only advantage because they only have the young Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier in the back court. D.J. Augustin and C.J. Watson — both former Chicago Bulls’ guards — round out the Magic’s guards and they don’t put the scare into any playoff bound Eastern Conference team.

Vogel can lean heavily on his bigs and develop Zimmerman to be one of the tallest inside-outside threats this season. The Bulls barely won the game against the Magic in the video below and got blown out by more than 10 in their late March game by a relentless rim-attacking offense and smart sniping by the Magic.

The Chicago Bulls have the deeper guard lineup this year. New defensive playmakers Spencer Dinwiddie and Jerian Grant may both have breakout seasons earning their roster spots by locking down on opposing backcourts like the Magic. Guard defense and poor rim protection cost the Bulls a playoff run last year, so Gar Forman put in all the pieces needed on top of young scoring core to give Fred Hoiberg his best team to date.

Against the Orlando Magic, the Bulls might have too much firepower with Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis. Dwyane Wade will get his points, while Rajon Rondo and Denzel Valentine get to run a surgical passing clinic against the Magic defense.

The key to the Magic matchup will be to keep Robin Lopez paired with a rim protector all game long to negate any advantage of the Biyombo-Ibaka tandem inside.

Also, remember that Jimmy Butler single-handedly wiped the floor with the entire Indiana Pacers team of Frank Vogel last season, and that’s with All-Star Paul George playing for them. Since the Bulls have more than Butler this year, you can expect a series sweep unless Fred Hoiberg screws up closing lineups against this .500 team in the making.

The two Bulls losses last year were caused by mismatches that shouldn’t have happened had Hoiberg scouted the Magic better as an inside-scoring team. Pau Gasol is also gone, so the Bulls have better rim protection with both Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio against sub-.500 teams.

Coaching: Fred Hoiberg vs. Frank Vogel

Frank Vogel has the bad luck of facing off against a Jimmy Butler-led team again this season.

Playing against Paul George’s team, Butler single-handedly won three games against the Pacers on last-second heroics.

This year, Vogel has Ibaka and Biyombo plus Fournier, Mario Hezonja and Nikola Vucevic as the veteran Magic core to strike fear into the hearts of the East’s rim protectors.

Nikola Mirotic will be licking his lips going for a fake-baiting spree on the entire front court assigned to guard him, while McDermott can feast at times, too.

Oh, and those two can also shoot from long range and you can expect Hoiberg to use mismatches like a surgeon against the Magic.

With Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol now gone and the Bulls’ offense reorienting itself to the stretch-four position aside from Wade and Butler’s production, it’s fair to expect a more potent scoring squad against sub-.500 teams.

The Chicago Bulls’ guards are expected to dominate this year’s Magic back court (at least it’s how it looks on paper) and Hoiberg gets wins for the Bulls unless he lets games slip away again with bad, mismatched lineups and poor closing teams.

We hope that the Bulls do scout their opponents better this season and take apart teams like Orlando, whose lineup should never blow out the Chicago Bulls next year, even with Biyombo and Ibaka as their rim monsters.